Contact with the outside world
All prisoners have the right to receive visits
Remand prisoners may be temporarily denied visits. The judge makes the determination.
Upon admission into the facility, the inmate provides a list of a maximum of four persons who may visit him/her during incarceration. In the course of their detention inmates can modify the list they provided.
The visitor’s pass is obtained via a written application addressed to the judge for the case of remand inmates and to the governor of the facility for the case of convicted inmates.
A preliminary investigation is carried out. If applicants’ criminal records indicate that they have been sentenced previously, they may be denied a visitor’s pass.
Appointments to the visiting area are made through phone calls to the facility.
Visit permits are granted
The time it takes to obtain a visitation permit varies from prison to prison, e.g., 14 days for Arendal prison.
People eligible to visit
Section 31 of the Execution of Sentences Act and the Execution of Sentences Regulations provide guidelines for visits. Each governor can decide on the frequency and days for visits. Inmates may receive “as far as practicable” at least one one-hour visit per week1.
Sivilombudsmannen (Norwegian Parliamentary Ombudsman), “Women in Prison: a thematic report about the conditions for female prisoners in Norway”, 2017, p. 46. ↩
Prisoners and visitors can meet without physical barriers
In exceptional cases, a barrier may separate the prisoner from their visitor (suspicion of drug trafficking, assignment to a special high-security unit, etc.).
Prisoners are allowed to receive visits from their children or minor relatives
yes, special arrangements are made
Norwegian prisons give particular attention, according to the NPM, to the physical settings for visits.
Bredveit Prison has a room appointed for visits by children. An apartment is also available for visits with minors. Meanwhile, visiting minors have access to an outdoor play area1.
The Correctional Service has a website for children visiting an imprisoned parent. Minors under the age of 15 must be accompanied by an adult.
Sivilombudsmannen (Norwegian Parliamentary Ombudsman), “Women in Prison: a thematic report about the conditions for female prisoners in Norway”, 2017, p. 48. ↩
Conjugal visits are allowed
Required conditions for conjugal visits
confirmed relationship is not required
Conjugal visits, that last two hours, normally occur once a week. Special rooms are provided to ensure privacy. Seven facilities have designated visiting rooms (Åna, Leira, Bredtveit, Bastøy, Halden, Ringerike and Bergen prisons). Couples and their children can stay overnight. Each unit has its own rules and procedures.
Family ties rules strive for the prisoner to serve their sentence as close as possible to their habitual residence. This is not always possible.
Prisoners are allowed to exchange mail
Mail exchanged is subject to control
Prisoners are allowed to exchange mail in sealed envelopes
The exchange of sealed correspondence with the Ombudsman, the consular services, the lawyer and the King are allowed.
Prisoners are allowed to receive parcels
E-mail exchange is possible
Electronic correspondence is permitted in exceptional cases. It is subject to the same controls as hardware (Regulations on the Execution of Sentences, Section 3-27.
Prisoners are allowed to make external phone calls
Phone calls are limited to 20 minutes a week1.
Sivilombudsmannen (Norwegian Parliamentary Ombudsman), “Women in Prison: a thematic report about the conditions for female prisoners in Norway”, 2017. p. 48. ↩
For several months, a prisoner was unable to call his partner, incarcerated in another facility. Prison officials refused his request on the basis that the conversation could not be monitored as the two prisons used the same telephone system. This represented a violation of the prisoner’s right to respect for private and family life according to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Ombudsman judged that correctional authorities must seek out alternatives that take security into account, such as video calls, when a call is extremely important and has been requested for several months. People incarcerated in different facilities can now communicate with each other.
Prisoners are allowed to call
The number must be cleared. The administration can, where criminal activity is suspected, block a number.
The phones are located
- in the walkways
- in the corridors
The location of the telephones does not always guarantee confidentiality.
The cost of phone calls is in line with market prices
Phones calls are wire tapped
An investigation into the monitoring of prisoners’ phone calls revealed that it is unnecessarily strict and makes it difficult to maintain family ties, especially with children and other important individuals. Prisoners condemned a variety of restrictions such as the short length of calls, their high cost and the lack of an interpreter for communication in their native language. The Ombudsman found that the law, and the practices of prison officials, do not meet the European Convention on Human Rights’ requirements for necessity and proportionality.
The use of cell phones is authorised
Mobile phone use is allowed only in halfway houses.
Prisoners have access to video calls with external contacts
Video calls (Skype or similar devices) remain an exception in Norwegian prisons. They are only possible in certain facilities, such as Norgehaven prison1. Video conferencing may be allowed when the family resides far away from the facility and visits are irregular.
Sivilombudsmannen (Norwegian Parliamentary Ombudsman), “Women in Prison: a thematic report about the conditions for female prisoners in Norway”, 2017, p. 50. ↩